Double murder trial underway for Edward Downey, accused of killing Calgary mother & 5-year-old daughter
WARNING: The details in this story are graphic and may be disturbing to some readers.
A jury trial is underway for a Calgary man accused of killing a mother and her five-year-old daughter.
On Monday morning, Edward Downey, 48, pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the 2016 deaths of Sara Baillie and her daughter, Taliyah Marsman.
Graphic and disturbing details of the case were outlined in an opening statement by Crown prosecutor Carla MacPhail.
MacPhail began by detailing Taliyah’s last interactions with her father, Colin Marsman.
Taliyah FaceTimed him July 10, 2016. Taliyah wanted to tell him she was losing a tooth.
Taliyah had also FaceTimed her great aunt and uncle, Marilynne and Scott Hamilton, to share the same news. She spent a lot of time with the Hamiltons.
Court heard it was the following day, July 11, 2016, that the mother and daughter disappeared.
Sara was supposed to have a tanning appointment and was expected at work at 10 a.m.
But Sara didn’t show up for either commitment, and Taliyah never showed up at daycare.
Sara’s family searched her home, but couldn’t find her.
Sara’s aunt, Marilynne Hamilton, said she started calling around, but Sara and Taliyah were nowhere to be found.
Marilynne and her husband, Scott Hamilton, then went to her northwest Calgary home.
“We all went into the apartment. Nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary.”
Marilynne broke down as she testified.
“She [Sara] loved Taliyah. Taliyah was her life.”
What they did notice was Sara’s purse was on the floor with her wallet inside.
“Her car was gone so I thought that was unusual,” Marilynne said.
They decided to call 911.
An initial search by police came up empty.
But a second look by the officer led to a horrific discovery.
“We heard him gasp and told us not to come in…told us to stay where we were,” Marilynne said.
“I was pleading for him to tell me if it was Sara and Taliyah. He just kept saying, ‘I don’t know.'”
Sara’s body was found stuffed into a laundry hamper and hidden in Taliyah’s closet.
“Duct tape was wrapped around Sara’s head, her face and neck,” MacPhail said.
Court heard Sara’s wrists were bound, her neck, face and body were bruised.
MacPhail said fingerprints were found on duct tape that bound Sara.
“They were made by the left forefinger of Mr. Downey,” MacPhail said.
An autopsy revealed she died of asphyxiation.
After the discovery of Sara’s body, an Alberta-wide Amber Alert was activated for her missing daughter.
MacPhail told jurors Downey was known to both Sara and Taliyah. He was Sara’s best friend’s boyfriend.
That woman’s identity is protected by a court-imposed publication ban, and can only be referred to by the initials “AB.”
The Crown told the jury the day before Sara was killed, AB sent a text to Downey that said, “it’s time to pack your bags I’m ending this relationship.”
MacPhail said things were falling apart, and it’s up to the jury to decide if Downey blamed Sara for that.
The jury was told text messages will be presented as evidence during the trial–texts between Downey and one of his associates, expressing his view of Sara’s influence on his girlfriend.
The Crown alleges Downey had also taken steps towards getting his girlfriend to work as an escort but she had decided “it was something she was not going to do.”
“It’s for you to decide if Downey blamed Sara for this as well,” MacPhail told the jury.
MacPhail said a Calgary police analyst used cellphone tower pings to map Downey’s movements.
It was a map from that data that led police to find Taliyah’s body three days later just outside of the city limits. Her tiny body was discarded in some bushes.
The Crown said it’s their theory Taliyah’s killer took her and murdered her because she was a witness to her mother’s death.
Family of Sara and Taliyah filled the courtroom Monday, many were crying as they heard details of the case.
A media release was sent out on Friday on behalf of the family.
It said they will be attending the trial and asked for privacy as the court case unfolds. The family said a statement will be made once the jury reaches verdicts in the case.
The jury is made up of five men and seven women.
The trial is scheduled for three weeks.
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